The Dallas Cowboys have been eliminated from the NFC East race and the playoffs with a 23-19 loss today to the New York Giants. They will finish the year 6-10 in Mike McCarthy's first season as head coach.
And as far as today goes, McCarthy may have only himself to blame.
The Cowboys fought back from a 20-9 halftime deficit to make it 20-19 midway through the 4th quarter. After forcing the Giants into a 3rd-and-16 from the Dallas 42-yard line, a 10-yard pass from Daniel Jones to Dante Pettis appeared to be trapped against the turf but was ruled a completion, setting up New York in makeable field goal range.
McCarthy did not challenge the play. Whether he ran out of time to throw the flag or chose not to is not clear but, based on video replays. it would very likely have been overturned and taken New York out of FG range. Instead, the Giants went up by four.
Dallas might have only been down by three at that point if McCarthy had attempted a 2-point conversion on their previous touchdown. But despite a score of 20-15 after Ezekiel Elliott's TD run in the 3rd quarter, the Cowboys took the extra point and carried a four-point deficit into the final quarter.
The Cowboys mounted a gritty drive to get into the redzone in the final minutes and get a chance at the game-winning touchdown. But after reaching 1st-and-Goal from the 7-yard line, a sack and then a dropped catch by CeeDee Lamb left the Cowboys in 3rd-and-Goal from the 17.
Andy Dalton, who'd been under pressure all day, had to scramble and then lobbed a pass into the endzone that was picked off by Xavier McKinney. At that moment it appeared the Cowboys' season was over.
There was some late drama when Wayne Gallman fumbled the ball on New York's final drive and it appeared that Dallas may have recovered. But a review showed Gallman had possession at the bottom of the pile and the Giants kept possession to seal the game.
It was a tough ending to a tough season. Of course, that depression may have just come a few hours earlier as Dallas wasn't making the playoffs anyway without a loss tonight by Washington.
But playoffs or not, it would've been nice to see the Cowboys finish the year on a four-game winning streak. But instead of that high note to end his first season in Dallas, Mike McCarthy will be taking a lot of heat for how this game played out.
And if Washington does manage to blow it tonight against the Eagles, that heat is sure to get turned up.
- Ezekiel Elliott fell 21 yards short of passing the 1,000-yard mark for the season. It's only the second year that Zeke hasn't reached that milestone; the other was his suspension-shorted season in 2017.
- Andy Dalton was sacked six times and otherwise harassed most of the day. He had 243 passing yards but no touchdowns and probably should have a had a couple more interceptions with how errant his throws were.
- Greg Zuerlein went 4/4 on field goals today to reach 34 makes for the year, tying Richie Cunningham for the single-season record for Cowboys kickers. One of his FGs was a 57-yarder to close the first half after the Giants attempted to ice him.
- DeMarcus Lawrence and Donovan Wilson each had late-game sacks as the Dallas defense started to come alive following a rough first half. Wilson also had an interception off a tipped ball by Evan Engram to close out his strong sophomore season.
- Dalton Schultz led all Cowboys receivers with seven catches for 70 yards.